By CLIFF BRUNT
Former Purdue sharpshooter Ryne Smith will be a student assistant coach at Purdue next season. I chatted with him after Monday’s practice on shiny Cardinal Court, the school’s new practice facility.
Smith made 89 3-pointers last season to rank third on Purdue’s single-season chart and shot .432 from beyond the arc for the season. He finished his career ranked fifth in program history in three-point field goal percentage (.408) and eighth in three-pointers made (169). He finished third in the three-point contest at the State Farm College Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships as part of the Final Four festivities in New Orleans.
Smith barely missed a long 3-pointer at the end of regulation that would have forced overtime in the NCAA Tournament loss to Kansas. It should be noted, however, that after the team’s Monday practice in advance of its trip to Italy, he dropped in a halfcourt shot and made it look easy.
The Boilermakers are in the midst of 10 practice days before the trip from Aug. 7-17. Purdue will play two games in Rome and one each in Venice and Lake Como.
The sightseeing itinerary for the trip currently includes the Vatican and the Coliseum in Rome, as well as Academia, Florence, Pisa, Venice and Lake Como.
Q: Why did you decide to get into coaching, and what do you add to the staff?
A: œMy dad was a coach. Hopefully, hanging around here for four years playing, I learned something, obviously under the best, coach Painter. It’s something I’m excited to do. I think it’s good for the program to have somebody to be that guy between the coaches and the players. It’s what I want to do in the long run, so this was the best decision for me to be able to hang around for an extra year.
Q: How did you end up getting the gig here?
A: œI’m an education major, and I couldn’t student teach while I was playing, so I was going to come back for five years anyway. I talked to my dad about it, and he said, ’You might as well talk to Coach Painter to see you can get something going on.’ He obviously opened a spot for me and I was grateful for that, that he took me on.
Q: Why is Coach Painter someone you want to emulate?
A: œHe’s always 100 percent with you. He never sugarcoats anything, and that’s something I respect. I respected it when he was recruiting me, I still respect it now. It’s always straight to the point, and what is on his mind, he’s going to say.
Q: Did you consider trying to play pro ball?
A: œIt was always going to be coaching for me. Some agents contacted me, but in the long run, this was the best decision for me, to hop into coaching right away because my future obviously wasn’t in playing, so this was a better decision for me.
Q: Is it strange not physically participating in the practices as the team prepares for its trip?
A: œIt’s a little weird not having a practice pinnie on, but it’s good to be on the other side. You see things from the coaching perspective that you don’t notice as a player, little, small things that you notice when you’re watching as opposed to of being a part of it.
Q: What can this trip do for the team?
A: œThis is huge for us. We’re going to go over there and play some grown men. We’ve got guys coming out of high school that really haven’t seen the intensity of Big Ten play yet. To have this trip is perfect timing for us because we have so many new faces and guys that have the capabilities of contributing.
Q: You’re tight with Robbie Hummel. What did it mean to you to see him get drafted in the second round by the Minnesota Timberwolves?
A: œUnbelievable. He’s a guy that’s overcome. So much adversity he had to overcome just to be even able to play his senior year in college. It was unbelievable. To get drafted by a great organization and play with guys like Kevin Love and Derrick Williams and all that is great. I’m really proud of him.